Saturday, December 5, 2009

Just Having Some Fun

I was lucky enough to grow up in Detroit, where I could get CBC-TV Channel 9 out of Windsor in the final years of Wayne and Shuster's career. Enjoy all 20 minutes of "The Brown Pumpernickel," a really fabulous example of their work.

It's a real shame, but comedy like this has become very rare. Wayne and Shuster were literate, measured, decent, and very very funny. Indecency sprawls everywhere in our modern culture of death, of course, which is a crying shame. It will take near universal rejection of pornography and smut to change that, and though I pray for it, I don't really expect it any time soon.

But that isn't the only thing that has changed. Television itself encourages a short attention span (and the internet even more so); see this article on The Art of Manliness. Somebody who finds the opportunity cost of paying attention to something for ten minutes is never going to get all the way through even as fluffy a classic as "The Three Musketeers," let alone "Summa Theologica," or the Vatican II documents. And because he is impatient, he will not become literate.

We hear "the medium is the message" so often it has become cliche, but it is cliche precisely because it is true. And the medium definitely controls the message when it comes to social networking sites: When "Know Thyself" Becomes "Show Thyself".

If I have anything to say about telly, facebooking, and the like, it is this: do not let your interest in such things become idolatry. The means of human communion God has given to us from out of antiquity -- family, church, community -- are, in the vast majority of cases, going to be best. And if you rely exclusively on media which by their nature eliminate the gestures, postures, tones of voice and facial expressions that make up so much of human interaction, you really are missing out on a great deal. You can strengthen your relationships by visiting people, or by getting out some paper and a fine pen and writing a letter. It requires more effort, but aren't those you love worth effort?

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